Thursday, June 03, 2021
Web Desk

COVID-19: Pakistan sets priorities for Pfizer vaccine

Asad Umar says vaccine acceptability issue is global, urges world community to address it

Web Desk
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  • Pakistan to inoculate those going abroad with Pfizer vaccine.
  • The NCOC has set priorities for the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Asad Umar says government is expediting vaccination campaign.

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to prioritise giving the Pfizer vaccine to those who have a work visa, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said Thursday. The aim is to inoculate Hajj pilgrims and students proceeding for education abroad first.

The federal minister said that the government is working hard to expedite the vaccination process across the country so that restrictions are lifted and businesses are resumed.

Umar, who also heads the apex COVID-19 supervisory body, said that the vaccine acceptability issue is global and urged the other nations to address it.

While responding to a question regarding the Pfizer vaccine, which the country received under the COVAX facility, the minister said that Pakistan received a limited quantity of the vaccine this month due to which the government has decided to give the vaccine to those who are going abroad where it is mandatory.

Umar said Chinese vaccines are exported the most and highlighted that acceptability towards vaccines is creating problems worldwide.

He said that the government is launching a mass vaccination campaign and planned to establish 4,000 vaccination centres across the country.

The first shipment of 106,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine has already arrived through COVAX, while authorities are also planning to procure ‘one to two million doses’ of mRNA vaccine directly from the manufacturer through the National Disaster Management Authority.

Officials at the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS R&C) told The News that since they have received a limited supply of Pfizer’s vaccine so far, it would only be used to inoculate “those with compromised immunity, transplant patients, pregnant ladies, children of 12 years and above in need of vaccination” and those recommended by the committee of experts.

In addition to that, Pfizer’s vaccine can be used for inoculation of Hajis (pilgrims) of less than 40 years of age as they can’t be inoculated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine at the moment, the official said, adding that strict monitoring of the vaccine would be carried out to prevent its misuse.

“Some big guns have already started approaching us to vaccinate them and their families with Pfizer’s vaccine but they are being refused as this is only meant for people with compromised immunity,” the official said and added that NCOC will distribute the vaccine to the provinces under strict instructions to prevent its misuse. 

“We are worried about the misuse of the mRNA vaccine in Punjab and Sindh as they have done some irregularities, so a foolproof system of monitoring and tracking all the doses of mRNA vaccine is being devised,” the official added.